Dolphin (ship, 1751)

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The Dolphin off Tahiti
The Dolphin off Tahiti
Ship data
flag Great BritainKingdom of Great Britain (Sea War Flag) Great Britain
Ship type frigate
Shipyard Fellowes, London
Commissioning 1751
Whereabouts Wrecked in 1777
Ship dimensions and crew
34.4 m ( Lüa )
width 9.8 m
Draft Max. 3.4 m
displacement 508 tons
crew about 160 men
Rigging and rigging
Number of masts 3
  • 22 × 9 pounder cannon
  • 2 × 3 pounder cannon

The Dolphin was a 22-gun frigate of the British Navy , which was used as a research ship on two expeditions in the South Seas.

Built by the Fellowes company in Woolwich Dockyards (London), the ship entered service in 1751. During the Seven Years War it was part of the fleet of Admiral John Byng and took part in the naval battle of Menorca (May 20, 1756) against French ships.

First expedition

In 1764, the Dolphin was placed under the command of John Byron as the flagship of a South Seas expedition . On June 21, 1764, the Dolphin and the Tamar - a sloop under Captain Mouat - sailed from Portsmouth . Their journey took them across the Canaries to South America. Byron headed for the Falkland Islands in order to take possession of it for England, without knowing that the French had already founded a colony there a year earlier.

The ship passed the Strait of Magellan and first called at the island of Mas Afuera (now Alejandro Selkirk) - one of the Juan Fernández Islands .

With a northwesterly course we went to Takaroa , where Byron landed despite the unfriendly reception to stock up on fresh provisions. There he found remains of Jakob Roggeveen's Africaansche Galey , which had sunk in 1721. After sailing west through various archipelagos, the Dolphin landed on June 30, 1765 on Tinian (Northern Mariana Islands ), where she stayed for nine weeks. She returned via the Cape of Good Hope and was back in England on May 9, 1766.

The Dolphin was that the hull was covered with copper plates after this long voyage still in excellent shape, which was due to the fact - to protect against the Schiffsbohrwurm . Despite good experience, this method did not become standard in the British Navy until 1783.

Second expedition

In 1766 the Dolphin was again equipped as a flagship for a second expedition to the South Seas. Samuel Wallis was in command of the company . Tobias Furneaux was also on board as second lieutenant . This time the Dolphin was accompanied by the Swallow under Philipp Carteret . On August 26, 1766, the Association sailed from Plymouth with the task of finding, measuring and mapping land or islands in the South Pacific. On December 17th, the ships reached the Strait of Magellan. They fought against adverse winds for almost four months and were only able to enter the Pacific on April 11, 1767. The Swallow came out of sight and each ship continued on its own. On June 18, Valais discovered the island of Tahiti . He stayed five weeks and was able to establish a friendly relationship with the local population. They were surprised to see that there were no women on board and therefore offered sex in exchange for iron. The sailors then removed so many nails and other iron from the ship that the structural integrity of the ship was compromised. On July 26, the ship began its onward journey. Via the Society Islands and the Marianas , they reached Batavia , a popular but also malaria-infested destination. The Dolphin returned to England via the Cape of Good Hope and entered the Downs on May 20, 1768 . The Swallow didn't arrive until ten months later.

The Dolphin was the first ship to circumnavigate the world twice. She remained in service as a research ship and was scrapped in 1777.


  • John Byron, Journal of his Circumnavigation 1764-1766, Cambridge 1784
  • John Byron, A Voyage round the World, in his Majesty's ship the Dolphin, commanded by the Hon. Comm. Byron, London 1767
  • Gallagher, Robert E. (Ed.): Byron's Journal of his circumnavigation, 1764-1766. Cambridge 1964
  • George Robertson, An Account of the discovery of Tahiti from the Journal of George Robertson
  • Pleticha, H./Schreiber, H .: The discovery of the world. Vienna 1993
  • Taillemite, Etienne: The discovery of the South Seas; In search of the “terra incognita”. Ravensburg 1990

Web links


  1. ^ Alastair Couper: Sailors and Traders: A Maritime History of the Pacific Peoples . University of Hawaii Press, Honolulu 2009, ISBN 978-0-8248-3239-1 , pp. 65 .